Super 35mm imager to ship on Feb. 2011 for $16k

Extending itself further into the independent filmmaking arena, Sony has unveiled its first professional handheld digital production camera with a Super 35mm imager. Dubbed PMW-F3, the camcorder will ship in February 2011, at a list price of at $16,000 for the body only, or at $23,000 for a kit that includes three Sony-branded T2.0 PL-mount prime lenses at 35mm, 50mm and 85mm.

Sony is positioning the camera as a bridge between high-end ENG acquisition and feature filmmaking. It’s based on the company’s XDCAM EX platform and has been designed to support high-end workflows with a Super 35mm-sized CMOS sensor and optional dual-link HD-SDI output.

The camera made its U.S. debut on November 17 at a gathering of students and pros at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Next month it will be shown at NYU. Why the academic flavor? “There are future Oscar winners in this room,” said Alec Shapiro, senior veep at Sony’s pro solutions group.

Former Panavision exec Andy Romanoff believes that, in addition to indies, studio filmmakers might end up using the F3 as a B camera. However, “the typical studio film will stick with higher-end cameras for most of their photography,” he said.

Naturally, Sony hopes those first-unit cameras will be its F35’s or SRW-9000’s.

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